Explore making your next home a timber-frame house.


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Timber framing is a specific type of post and beam construction in which a frame is created from solid wood timbers connected using joinery techniques such as mortise and tenon joints, dovetail joints, or scarf joints, secured with hardwood pegs. The frame is covered with any one of a number of enclosure systems. Normally, the timbers remain exposed to the interior of the building.

Timber frame structures exhibit a strength and aesthetic quality not found in conventionally framed-houses. The timbers are pre-cut, shaped, and finished at the factory, then sent to the construction site, where they can be quickly assembled by a crew, routinely using cranes to lift the bents and beams into place. The use of quality wood, enhanced by joinery that compares with fine cabinet making, maximizes the strength of the timberframe structure. Joinery is at the heart of the entire structure.

The exterior of the timber frame home can be traditional, colonial, contemporary, rustic, oriental, southwestern, or any other desired style. The interior can achieve an individual style by choosing from a variety of the timbers such as red oak, white oak, Douglas fir, white pine, yellow pine, spruce, heart pine, or others. The timbers may be milled square or they may be hand-hewn. They may be unseasoned, or they may be seasoned reclaimed materials that come with a history. The location of exposed posts, beams, purlins, rafters and summer beams can vary greatly, and well-planned truss design can add tremendous and lasting character to a home.

Timber-frame home walls and the roofs are usually sheathed with structural insulated panels (also known as "stress skin" panels or SIP), which insulate the house as well as enclose timber framing from the elements. SIP panels are easy to cut for doors and windows openings, offer higher R-values than conventionally-framed walls and roofs and provide a straight and rigid surface for interior and exterior finishing.

The exposed timbers are from 6" to 12" wide and are fastened using mortise and tenon, or other more complex joints, using only wooden pegs.


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